Gus has been posting some very thoughtful stuff about the perceived "need" for Pagan clergy. In general, I agree with him. My brilliant friend S once said to me that religions begin w mystics. Then, a clergy comes along and sucks all the juice out. I think that's about right.
As an old woman, I want to particularly endorse what Gus says about dying and funerals:
What about dying and burial? As we grow in legitimacy, as we are, it will be increasingly possible for a person's coven mates to visit to be present in the final moments of physical life, should he or she so desire. As to burial, the government has a legitimate interest in making sure dead bodies are disposed of safely, and maybe protecting other public values as well. So long as those standards are met, government should have no say whatsoever as to whether we preach, dance, drink ourselves silly, cry, laugh, or what have you at the final services.
I posted a while back about how I'd like to go when I set off in my burning Viking boat, headed for the Isle of Apples in the West:
"The sisters who are with her today have dressed Shekhinah in her ritual robes and surrounded her with rose petals from her garden. It was exactly the way she'd always said she wanted her final moments to be.
Those same sisters are now singing over her body, and soon they will conduct the ritual washing of the body as they prepare her to go back into the arms of the Mother."
Oh, when I die, dress me in the black gown with the hecate trim. Surround me with herbs from my garden. Tell some jokes. You don't need to wash me; my Mother will take me dirty. Drink all my good wine. Scritch my good, grey cat. Turn on all the lights.
I figure the UUs will rent out their space, and my coven can give the law borg the shock of its life (Please. Make them dance the spiral dance!), and I'll go, as Mary Oliver says, saying:
[A]ll my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms
And the lilacs will say, "Hmm, interesting fertilizer. Do I detect a note of Stoli? A hint of rosemary and orange? Quand meme."
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."